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Pence: Turkey Agreed to a 5-Day Cease-fire in Syria

U.S. Vice President Mike Pence  hailed a deal he reached with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan in Ankara as a temporary cease-fire of Turkey's military assault against Kurdish fighters in northern Syria. But some former U.S. national security officials and lawmakers are rejecting the deal, criticizing the Trump administration for abandoning its long-time Kurdish allies that fought as a key part of a coalition against the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria. VOA'S Diplomatic Correspondent Cindy Saine reports from Washington.

Iraq's PM Announces Reforms in Response to Deadly Protests

Iraq’s leaders announced a new reform plan on Sunday following days of protests that have killed more than 100 people in less than a week. The cabinet met through the night Saturday in an effort to respond to protests that started on Tuesday in the capital Baghdad and quickly spread to other southern cities. The protests that started peacefully on Tuesday with protesters demanding jobs, better services and an end to widespread corruption became increasingly violent as the authorities used force to disperse protesters. VOA's Zlatica Hoke reports.

Iraq's PM Promises to Listen t Grievances After Deadly Protests

Iraq's Prime Minister Adel Abdul Mahdi promised to listen to people's grievances in a televised address after three days of deadly protest in Baghdad and several other cities. Hundreds of protesters rallied in the capital for a third consecutive day Thursday, defying a curfew, to call for jobs, improved services and an end to widespread corruption. About 30 people have been killed so far and hundreds others have been injured in clashes between the police and protesters. VOA's Zlatica Hoke reports the authorities authorities have extended a curfew in several southern cities as the death toll rises.

Iraq's Violent Protests Raise Fears Over Country's Future

In recent days, anti-government protests have engulfed Baghdad and some other cities in Iraq. Security forces have opened fire, killing dozens and wounding hundreds. A curfew has been imposed in the capital and the internet has been cut off in several regions. The United States has urged authorities to exercise restraint. As the country stands on the brink of descending once more into violence, there are fears of a return to sectarian conflict. Henry Ridgwell reports from a recent London conference on the uncertain future of Iraq.

One Year After Journalist's Murder, Case Being 'Ignored'

Marking the one-year anniversary of the killing of Saudi dissident and Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi, the United Nations special rapporteur and Khashoggi’s fiancé both warn the international community: only action — not words — will send a message that no one can get away with murder. VOA’s Ramon Taylor reports.

Heading to School Far From Home

For kids all over the world, the coming of Fall means the beginning of school year. For some children though, it is a reminder that they are far away from their own schools and homes. VOA’s Newroz Rasho visited children starting their school year in Shahba refugee camp near Afrin, Syria in this report narrated by Bezhan Hamdard.

American-born Street Races Delight in Jordan

In an earlier time, boxes on wheels raced on American streets.  Now, an energy drink company sponsors motorless, homemade car races around the world.  VOA's Arash Arabasadi takes us on this bumpy ride through Jordan.

Some Young Tunisians Aren't Waiting for Politicians to Deliver

TUNIS, TUNISIA — Computer student Anes Nouri wants to launch a tech startup. Awatef Mosbeh, already has one: a smart children’s magazine available via a mobile phone app and focused on environmental and social issues.Both are holed up in a Tunis classroom one recent afternoon, staring at screens filled with a jumble of figures and letters, as they learn the basics of computer coding.Computer science student Anes Nouri, enrolled in the WeCode program, wants to launch a startup. (L. Bryant/VOA)Across Tunisia, jobless youngsters, including many college graduates, squander their days in coffee shops or homes, in a country where unemployment tops 30% in some places. The sluggish economy that ignited the North African country’s 2011 Jasmine Revolution, and later provided fertile ground for recruiting extremists, continues to limp along.Powering changeToday, a small army of young entrepreneurs is not waiting for their leaders to act. They are powering change through startups and grassroots NGOs. They are part of a broader civil society awakening since the 2011 ousting of long-time dictator, Zine El-Abidine Ben Ali.Wala Kasmi is hoping to channel youth's potential to change things. (L. Bryant/VOA)“Our education doesn’t match market needs, so we’re creating curriculums that are market oriented and respect diversity,” says Wala Kasmi, the 32-year-old founder of the digital training program in which Nouri and Mosbeh are enrolled.Mosbeh has a hard time finding qualified youngsters for her two companies, including the children’s magazine. “I don’t find the competencies,” she says, “and their parents are very conscious of that.”Supported by the International Labor Organization, the digital training program targets dozens of youngsters, most of them under 35. It is part of a broader movement Kasmi launched after the revolution, dubbed Youth Decides. Today, its membership of several thousand has spread beyond Tunisia’s borders, including to neighboring Libya.Young men are seen at a bus stop cafe in Tunis. Unemployment reaches 30 percent in some parts of Tunisia. (L. Bryant/VOA)“It’s frustrating when you see young people in the streets doing nothing,” she says. “If their potential is channeled, if they belong to the right incubator, the right community of thinkers and doers, they can do a lot.”Bread-and-butter issues top election agendaKasmi’s frustrations are widely shared. Jobs and other bread-and-butter concerns dominated the first round of presidential elections this month, a trend set to continue during October’s presidential runoff and legislative polls.And they were reflected in the first-round results, with two political outsiders ...

Amnesty: Qatar Migrant Workers Face Unpaid Wages, Dire Conditions

Thousands of migrant workers in Qatar are not getting paid by their employers and are being forced to live in dire conditions, according to Amnesty International.Despite pledging to overhaul labor laws for migrants in 2018, Amnesty said the Qatari government has failed to implement its policies on unpaid wages, as the kafala employment system continues to give companies wide-ranging powers over migrant employees.With Qatar due to host the FIFA World Cup in 2022, the human rights group is calling on the international community to put more pressure on the Gulf state to improve the conditions for its estimated 2 million migrant workers.The country’s successful World Cup bid has drawn attention to the plight of migrant workers, with many of them now involved in building stadiums and infrastructure. Great on paper
Following global criticism, Qatar agreed to establish committees to resolve labor disputes and set up an insurance fund to support workers taking legal action against their employers. “Things on paper look great. However, the reality on the ground is once they do not get their wages and they try to take their cases to court, they are stuck in a long legal battle, still taking between three and eight months to get a court judgment," said Amnesty's May Romanos. "And even then, the money is not guaranteed at the end. Many of them either give up hope and go back home with nothing, or stay in Qatar living in dire conditions hoping that this money would come."Amnesty followed the cases of more than 2,000 migrant workers working for three agencies in the construction and cleaning sectors: Hamton International, Hamad bin Khaled bin Hamad (HKH), and United Cleaning. The agencies stopped paying wages, citing financial difficulties, before ceasing operations and ending their contracts. While some workers received limited compensation, most went home with nothing. “They are not paid. They have interest loans back home, which means that they are in debt. They are not paid in Qatar. They struggle. They can't leave. They live in dire conditions in the camp — no food, no water, no electricity,” Romanos said.Planned reforms
The Qatari government insists it has made meaningful reforms, and claims it has intervened to help migrants settle with their employers. Amnesty says there is an urgent need for more judges to speed up the committee hearings and for the compensation fund to be fully operational. Romanos fears global attention will fall away after the ...

Amnesty: Qatar Migrant Workers Suffering Unpaid Wages, Dire Conditions

With football's World Cup championship in Qatar just over three years away, many migrant workers building the venues are still struggling to get paid and in some cases are returning home without receiving any wages after months or years of work, according to Amnesty International. The human rights group is calling on FIFA and the international community to put more pressure on Qatar to make meaningful reforms ahead of the 2022 World Cup. Henry Ridgwell reports.

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